The Ochs is a U.S. family of newspaper publishers. Julius Ochs (1826–1888), founder of the family, was an immigrant from Bavaria who went into business in Louisville, Kentucky, and then in Knoxville, Tennessee. He became a communal leader and served as volunteer rabbi to the Jewish community for 25 years. His three sons rose to prominence as publishers and editors.
Adolph Simon Ochs (1858–1935) was the eldest and most distinguished. His career began at the age of 11, when he left school to become an office boy for the Knoxville Chronicle. At 17, he became a compositor for the Louisville Courier-Journal, and three years later he gained control of the decrepit Chattanooga Times for $250. He soon put it on its feet and made it one of the leading papers in the South. In 189,. he went to New York to take over the declining New York Times. He revitalized it, and in his 39 years as its publisher he strengthened it all round. Before he died, he saw its circulation rise from 9,000 to 466,000 daily and 730,000 on Sunday. When he went to New York, “yellow journalism” was at its height; he adopted the slogan “All the news that’s fit to print” and appealed to intelligent readers with trustworthy and comprehensive coverage. He raised the standards of printing and advertising and brought responsible journalism to a high level.
In 1902, he bought The Times and The Ledger of Philadelphia, amalgamated them and installed his brother George Washington Ochs (1861–1931) as editor. When the company was sold in 1913, George Ochs stayed on for two more years and then became editor of Current History, a monthly magazine published by the New York Times. He continued in that post until his death. He also served as mayor of Chattanooga, Tennessee (1894–98).
In 1917, out of anger at the German atrocities during World War I, he anglicized his Germanic-sounding family name Ochs to Ochs-Oakes. His son, John B. Oakes (1913–2001), a Rhodes scholar who worked as a political reporter for the Washington Post, took charge of the editorial page of the New York Times from 1961 to 1976. He conceived the concept of the op-ed page and was a pioneer of environmental journalism.
In 1993, the John B. Oakes Award for Distinguished Environmental Journalism was established by Oakes’ family and friends to promote the highest standards in environmental journalism. The award is housed at the Natural Resources Defense Council, an environmental public policy organization of which Oakes was a founding trustee.
Milton B. Ochs (1864–1955), the youngest brother, served with his brothers in high executive positions in Chattanooga and Philadelphia, and ultimately became vice president of the New York Times Publishing Company.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.